On the odd weekend when the party animal inside rears its head, the call must be answered. Let's start with the premise that Kathmandu is not the liveliest place in the world-well, at least not in terms of glitzy nightlife, but it's not as if they roll up the streets when the sun goes down either. You could stumble upon good times, or you read on and discover the true hotspots in the city. All this on a whirlwind, fun-filled Friday night.
Perfect for pre-dinner cocktails, dinner and a dessert drink.
Jatra, Thamel: Amazingly peaceful, even in the heart of Thamel, Jatra is fast getting a reputation, a good one. It's not desperately hip or trendy. In fact, it's the sort of place you go with children, parents, colleagues or even on a low-pressure date. The live band makes pleasant music, unlike some other venues where it's like that 1972 rock hit 'Cum on feel the noize'. The outdoor seating is a bit chilly this time of year, but come summer and Jatra is a top pick.
Roadhouse Caf?, Thamel: This is my personal favourite. If you're lucky enough to snag the table at the right, you may never want to leave this very tastefully designed neo-Nepali interior. The Roadhouse specialities are their woodfired pizzas which are innovative and delicious. Roadhouse's presentation must be commended, it even manages to pretty up an ordinary ice tea.
New Orleans, Thamel: This may be on the pricey side, but New Orleans has great food, well-mixed cocktails and a good live band. New Orleans is one of those places with an amazing ambience, time just flies by. During the winter cold , it does try its best to keep you warm with plenty of wood fires and heaters.
Kilroy's at Boardwalk 1905, Kantipath: For a romantic gourmet meal without the extra cutlery but with candlelight and a pond with white swans, 1905 is the ideal place to start Friday night. With Chef Thomas Kilroy's menu and the new 'Jack Lives Here' Jack Daniel's bar, this could be that one night spot you won't have to leave, especially if there is a dance party at their sunken garden.
Caf? Mitra, Thamel: There are people who swear by Kunal Lama's cosmopolitan caf?. Housed in an old building, the interiors are contemporary, the menu excellent and the cocktails at Mitra Lounge Bar are far from the slap-dash affair available at other bars.
Dinner's done but it's still too early to go dancing. A few mellow drinks are in order as the night builds up.
The Red Onion Bar, Lazimpat: Just outside Hotel Radisson, Red Onion offers a wide selection of drinks and cocktails from all over the globe. It attracts a slightly upscale crowd from the embassies and NGOs in the area. While admiring the multitude of drinks on display is entertaining, if you enjoy an after-dinner cigar, this is one place where you can savour a fine blend lounging on their fabulously comfortable sofas.
Tantra Bar, Thamel: If cigars won't do for you and a more eastern flavour is what you crave, then Tantra's hookas, imported straight from Bahrain and available in different flavours, could lend you a little exotic east cache. The Axis band plays live on Fridays and Tantra also hosts some of the best DJs in the Valley, making it easily one of the most popular places for the young set.
Upstairs Jazz Bar, Lazimpat: Nevermind where Jack lives, Upstairs is home to Nepal's jazz icons Cadenza. Even with a Rs 200 cover charge on the nights they perform, usually Wednesday and Saturday, the small rooms are always packed to the rafters. Cadenza is also instrumental in bringing about Jazzmandu, the annual jazz festival, this year in March. Surprise guests like Sting jammed with the band last year.
Maya's Cocktail Bar, Thamel: One of the best things about this place is their extended happy hours (4-10PM) and no, they don't charge twice as much and plonk down a free drink. The Mojito is very refreshing and goes down easy with an array of Mexican snacks and little pizzas. The only blot is somewhat slow service, but that is only to be expected from a bar that is always hopping.
Via Via Caf?, Thamel: A Belgian would recognise the name, because this caf? has its HQ there. It's a travellers port of call that attracts a fair share of locals and resident expats. Via Via hosts many dance events with foreign DJs mixing some bumping beats. Oh yes, and they have a very nice cocktail menu.
Those shoes were made for dancing and the hour before midnight is the perfect time to make your grand entrance at one of Kathmandu's discos or clubs.
Rox Bar, Hyatt Regency: Bar it may call itself, but this is more a swank club: beautiful people sip on expensive drinks or dance to hot new tracks. Till recently, the Rox was the most popular club in the kingdom and on Fridays it still manages to deliver, despite the cover charge, that, to be fair, includes a complimentary drink.
Subterrania - Club Kilroy, Thamel: For those who think Boudha is too far then 'sub' it. A relatively new dance destination, Subterrania's in-house DJ Pritam should have you dancing all night. The club is for members only and they reserve the right of admission to keep the 'undesirables' out. Prices are reasonable and the VIP lounge is plush. You could order a bottle of quality bubbly and rub shoulders with the select crowd-if you can get past the door.
Fire Club, Thamel: On the other end of Sub is Fire Club. It welcomes everyone though the bouncers at the door have a final say. The place is always happening thanks to new music and extremely affordable prices. It helps that Fire is at the centre of Thamel. When you get tired, you can contemplate another drink with an eye on the wall-sized TV projection in a large seating area. However, there is a rougher side to the Fire Club. If a fight breaks out, as is wont to happen, just move aside.
Funky Buddha Bar & Caf?, Thamel: Definitely not mainstream, at least in terms of music and party styles. Happy hour at Funky Buddha starts at 1PM when you can thaw from the winter cold in their sunny garden. Come early evening it's a spot of telly, cocktails and conversation at their indoor lounge before gearing up for the Psy-Club to sample some trance, house, progressive, drum & bass or whatever the DJ wishes to spin. If these terms have you wondering, maybe you need a Funky Buddha party education.
Sensible people would go home to bed. Sensible people may not even leave home but it's Friday night and you wanted something more exciting than watching Casablanca for the nth time.
Galaxy Club, Everest Hotel: So you have energy enough for another two hours. The only place to go is Galaxy. DJ Ankit is good at keeping your dance groove on. The powerful sound system has the bass pounding through the intimate club. Galaxy is an easy habit to pick up. Soon you'll never be home before dawn.
All the bars and clubs are closed. There are four things to do: drive to Bir Hospital and chow down on bowl a of instant noodles at the small chiya-pasal, back to Thamel's all night sandwich point for a something-to-go or best of all, do both and then head out towards Nagarkot. An hour later you'll be drinking in pure air, seeing the first blushes of day tint the mountains-a perfect Zen ending to a night of excesses.
Never a dull moment - Partynepal.com
hoever said nothing fun happens in Nepal obviously didn't look in the right place: PartyNepal.com.
It all started when three party animals met at a salsa night and discovered that they shared a particular passion.partying! They were part of a rising demand for the latest, 'happening', up-to-date information on where to be seen once the sun sets on the Himalaya.
Mandil Pradhan and Robin Sitoula duly noted the information lapse of a reliable source for parties and events. They decided to create a website to provide free access to news, reviews and information related to Nepal's 'clubbing scene' that, no, does not refer to people bashing each other with effigies or batons, both of which are common on the city streets.
PartyNepal.com is the definitive guide to having a good time in the kingdom. They have the latest club and dance-music charts, bulletin boards and a chatroom, updates on the latest parties and bios on the big DJs. The PartyNepal triumvirate is 25-year-old Sitoula, 20-year-old Pradhan and 26-year-old Bhushan Thapa.
Sitoula is a trained DJ who specialises in electronica. After graduating from Sydney, his penchant for traveling, partying and clubbing took him to party, club and rave meccas like Ibiza, Amsterdam, Milan, New York, Los Angeles, Rio De Janeiro and Goa where he met big names like Fat Boy Slim, Carl Cox and PVD. Sitoula says, "It's my dream to promote more of an electronica scene in Nepal. Hopefully, we can host big name DJs here and be known as a destination for music lovers as well."
Pradhan, a young graphic designer is 'fierce' when it comes to partying. He manages, updates and co-owns the site. "I party hard: I get to do what I love and I get paid for it," he says. It's tough to beat that. Thapa, marketing director of PartyNepal.com, is a Business Management graduate from Sydney. A whiz at marketing and public relations, he even does event management though his actual background is the more staid area of finance and banking. He looks after the trio's marketing, sponsorship and "makes" clients. "I'm the guy behind the scenes," says Thapa. "My work isn't really work: it's like organising fun."
PartyNepal.com launched Nepal's first online clubbing and partying portal on 14 April 2003, the first day of 2060 BS, at a low-budget event in Thamel where more than 300 people showed up! Four days later, they organised "Tranceport:Kathmandu!", still remembered as one of the best trance events in the Valley. They hosted "Retro Night, A memory of the 60s & 70s", a party intended for the oldies to let loose and boogie. This was followed by PTY LTD, an Australian Electro Funk Band, who performed in Kathmandu as part of their world tour. The "Lounge-A-Rama" event was a live concert that got a phenomenal response from music lovers and the media.